Tag: Finn Wittrock

Landline

In 2014, Gillian Robespierre directed a small indie film called Obvious Child, starring Jenny Slate.

And it frankly was the best thing Slate has ever done. She is in a lot of kid movies weirdly enough, along with voice roles, so those rarely are anything noteworthy. And then on the other end of the spectrum, she can be in these raunchy/annoying roles that make you remember her, but usually in a negative way.

Obvious Child was a nice balance between outspoken and notable in a good way.

So I was excited to hear that the pair had teamed up for a new movie, Landline, not at all related, but hey the same director and same star.

Boys Room
And hardcore tobacco use in a bathroom. Is this what Mötley Crüe was talking about?

Dana (Slate) is an adult, working a job, and living with her fiance, Ben (Jay Duplass), who is a bit boring. And by that I mean their life is routine, their sex doesn’t lead to climax, and every time they try to spice things up it goes wrong. Her younger sister, Ali (Abby Quinn) is almost graduating from high school and thinking about colleges. She is super smart, but she is getting into dumb positions and working with drugs, putting a strain on her future.

But we are really here to talk about their parents. Alan (John Turturro) and Pat (Edie Falco), who are going through weird times. Turns out that Alan might be cheating on Pat, thanks to Ali finding a disk with some erotic poems to a mysterious C. Oh yeah, I mean floppy disk, because this takes place in the mid-90’s.

While that is going on, Dana separates from her fiance temporarily to find herself, which she does in the arms of a friend from long ago, Nate (Finn Wittrock). Oh boy, time for everyone to have panic attacks about their lives and question all of their relationships!

Also starring Raffaella Meloni as “C”.

Hibachi
The face you make when you realize your dad was actually cheating with the hibachi chef the whole time.

Landline is going to be remembered as one of those movies that really just fit the okay rating. It had some things happen, some notable moments, but the whole thing failed to stick with me in anyway. I don’t even have any large complaints. No one acted terribly and no character felt badly written. Everyone in the family was pretty realistic, as were their relationships and attitudes towards each other. It just didn’t resonate.

And hey, I didn’t even find Slate annoying in this film, that is a first!

I was most impressed with Turturro, he did a lot with his face and body, despite a more limited screen time than the two lead actresses.

Also the ending of the film felt wrapped up too nicely. It ruined a bit of that realistic feel and turned back into a movie, but one that didn’t match the way one would assume with the choices a few characters had made.

The good news is it wasn’t terrible, so I would be more than willing to watch another team up with Robespierre and Slate. Unlike the team up of Wahlberg and Berg.

2 out of 4.

La La Land

La La Land gets the honor of most anticipated film of 2016. Yes, it even beats Doctor Strange, which I have been waiting for years.

I was told Damien Chazelle (who just gave us Whiplash), plus musical, plus two wonderful stars and I knew I just had to see it. And then it got pushed back! Several times, to the wonderful Oscar seasons, meaning more waiting and more desire.

The good review hype just made my train go even stronger. If anything, by the time I saw it, I was disappointed it wasn’t a four hour long movie.

And now that I have seen it, my hype has immediately switched to next years Christmas release of The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman.

Dance Dance
I just really like dancing and musicals, get over it.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a great pianist, lover of jazz, and a dreamer. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress, not successful, former writer kind of, and hey, a dreamer.

So of course they meet in one warm winter, LA evening and things go, well, they don’t go. But then they meet again later and something starts to flicker on between them. Romance, hopes, dreams. And hey, a song and dance number.

Sebastian wants to open up his own jazz club, at a historic location, to bring the genre back to the public, but he also might sell out his skills to make money in the mean time with an old (poppy) friend (John Legend). Mia is tired of going to auditions against girls prettier and more experienced than her, getting her no where, so she puts more of her focus towards creating a play that she can star in herself, to get her name out.

And then there is romance, hopes, and more romance.

But love can’t be the only thing in a relationship. Can they even last a year with their goals, or more?

Also featuring Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons, and Finn Wittrock.

Dance
The only pictures from this movie involve dancing, and hey, even they are getting over it now.

This has been a very hard review to write. First off, I didn’t really want to watch it until I could listen to the soundtrack in its entirety, and thankfully that came out December 9th. The soundtrack isn’t actually that long, and quite a few songs are instrumental only. But the music is something special and for most of the soundtrack, just sitting down and hearing the music is a wonderful thing. Jazz heavily influences the soundtrack, which should not come to a surprise given the director’s previous film and the subject matter. Let’s start at the beginning.

The opening song is what appears to be one long shot, for minutes, involving dozens of extras, cars, and hijacking the LA Freeway at some point for presumably days to practice and get it all right. It gets you in the mood and sets you up. The second song, a bit stranger, but ends on a strong note and really gets the message going. And those two songs are our “classic” musical songs, for the most part. They ooze out nostalgia from the 1940’s and 50’s, with dancing, color and more.

This does continue into A Lovely Night, which gives a modern sarcastic feel to it all, finally including our main two leads fully, and a huge (once again long take) dance number. It is truly a wonder to watch and it made me annoyed that I was in a theater and couldn’t just rewind and see it again and again.

Eventually we get to the main theme of City of Stars, which is hauntingly beautiful and won’t annoy you the many times it comes up, humming, singing or otherwise. City of Stars and The Fools Who Dream are the emotional pinnacle points of the film and are reasons why this film is having so much buzz.

La La Land is about acting, dreamers, with a shit ton of nostalgia and classic feel. I ignored the fact that I saw cell phones early on and assumed it was set in the 50’s until the Prius joke brought me back down from my cloud. La La Land is an experience that deserves the big screen, deserves multiple viewings and will be a musical staple for some time to come. The actors relationship feels real, their love and their arguments. This is the third time Gosling/Stone have been together in a film, after Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad (which was a travesty).

Go see one of the best films of the year. The hype is real. Go dream or go home.

4 out of 4.

My All American

My All American is one of those films that came out in 2015 that I just flat out avoided. Football films have been extremely disappointing lately. Heck, for quite a few years I guess. After the extreme disappointment that was When The Game Stands Tall I knew I couldn’t see another one in theaters for some time.

On top of that, Aaron Eckhart has also been equally disappointing, almost entirely, since The Dark Knight. Dude needs to step up his game, I am tired of being let down.

According to IMDB, this movie is actually called Courage. I just have not heard that said about it in any other context, except for it being a big part of a title of one of the many books on this subject. Fucking IMDB, stop being weird.

Hand Jobby?
There is no way this image is not a hand job. Can they show this in a family movie?

This is a true story of course, and of course, some of this is a bit unbelievable.

Despite the billing, it is about Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock), a boy with a lot of heart. But you knew that, why else would he get his own movie? He is a smaller guy, like Rudy, sure, but he gives it his all, he is super fast, and smart on the defense. He is a safety, and fantastic. But because of his size, no one gives him a chance. Except for one guy, Coach Royal (Aaron Eckhart), at the University of Texas. The Longhorns.

He sees his drive. And he also has a friend, Bobby Mitchell (Rett Terrell) who might come by as well. A nice two for one.

Well, sure enough, Freddie becomes their main defensive player. He is on the highlight reels. He is top form. He wants a national championship. And he might be able to force his body to go places no single human body should go. But will he become an All American? That is really what is important. He won’t. Nope. Sorry. But they let you know that one right away.

His parents are played by Michael Reilly Burke and Robin Tunney, girlfriend by Sarah Bolger, and other quarterbacks are played by Juston Street and Donny Boaz.

Old Dudes
Holy shit, is everyone on this college football team a guy in their thirties?

Heart. Drive. Inspiration. I already made the Rudy connection, but apparently Steinmark was a bit better than Rudy. Rudy got to play one game, because he was willing to practice so hard and make it his one goal. Steinmark had family support since he was kid to be the very best and it actually showed, despite his size. Steinmark helped championship games get won and rivalries get stomped down.

My All American is better than it has any right to be. It is more or less a by the numbers inspirational sports film. It is PG, it shows mostly just some personal struggle, and it is about an optimist. It has a lot of really easy material to pluck from to get people nostalgic and tearjerking. In fact, by the end it feels like it is trying to hard just to get some cries out. Did I cry? Yes, but only like half of a cry. It didn’t fully get to me, despite giving its best.

The film is also surprisingly well shot. You can generally tell what is going on during the plays, everything looks really nice and you can tell that someone wanted to put their best foot forward for the film. In terms of acting, most of the side characters are understandably average, being reduced to mostly one or two bit players. But Wittrock as our lead was a joy to watch and is the type of lead you want in a sports bio pic like this one.

My All American won’t be for everyone. In fact, I probably won’t watch it ever again unlike what I do almost bimonthly for Remember the Titans. But it was a better effort than recent fair and hopefully means we can get some better football movies in the pipeline soon.

2 out of 4.

The Big Short

Did you see Margin Call? No? Well, it had a pretty big cast of actors! I mean, Stanley Tucci was in it, so you should see it. That is why I wanted to watch all the Hunger Games movies, but he only had one damn scene in the last one, and it wasn’t even good.

I ended up really enjoying it and found it informative. I didn’t think I was an expert on the financial collapse that America had experienced, but I got the vibe behind it all and understood that something like that could happen.

Needless to say, I didn’t expect more movies about the collapse. Then The Big Short came along. And I didn’t know what to expect. But here is a hint.

Anchorman. Anchorman 2. The Other Guys. Talladega Nights. Step Brothers. Sure, all of these have Will Ferrell in common, but they are also directed by Adam McKay.

Sure, he has directed some TV shows and shorts and random things, but that list was literally every movie he has ever directed. Up til The Big Short. Can a guy who is BFF’s with Ferrell, make a movie serious enough about the economic collapse, easy to understand, and good, without any Ferrell at all?

The Gos
Don’t worry, we have mature Gosling to make the women and men swoon instead.

Back to the crisis. Our story starts in 2005, with one man. Michael Burry (Christian Bale). He is a socially awkward guy, with a fake eye. He had a wealthy inheritance, so he took it to wall street to make his own small investment firm. And you know what he wants to put over a billion of dollars? Into the mortgage market.

Mortgages are safe, everyone pays them, and only people who can pay them end up getting them. That idea has made bankers rich since the 1970s, thanks to something called Mortgage Backed Securities, MBS. The banks loan out hundreds of mortgages in one lump sum to many homes, and when they are that big, they can make some sweet interest and that gets them rich. More or less. But banks got greedy. They started renting to riskier and riskier people. So the chance of these large funds crashing, creating very bad scenarios, is actually getting higher but no one seems to notice.

Except for Burry. He wants to “short” the MBS funds. More or less, that means he is betting against them. He is loaning money to banks, like Goldman Sachs, and paying a monthly premium on it. He is letting them have that money, until these MBS’s break and he will get his money back multiplied many times over. He is the first guy to do something like this and most people think he is insane, but he looked at the numbers.

But there were more players. Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) is our narrator, and actually works for Deutsche Bank. He finds out about the Burry deal and tries to get more people to follow suit, believing in him and working to get some profit on the side as well. He ends up talking to Mark Baum (Steve Carell), operator of a hedge fund, who crusades against all the bull shit on wall street, and sets out to find just how corrupt this whole thing is.

Also, Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock), two Denver boys who grew their own money to 30 million, who see this as an opportunity to finally make it to the big leagues.

We have a ton of people in this movie, including Marisa Tomei, Brad Pitt, Adepero Oduye, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, Rafe Spall, Jeffry Griffin, Max Greenfield, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain.

Drum
The man who drums at his desk and doesn’t wear a suit, predicted the downfall of American economy.
This is why I choose to wear shorts as well.

I honestly didn’t think much about this movie before seeing it. I saw the trailer once before Steve Jobs, was intrigued by the cast, but then forgot about it. And hey, I like some of McKay’s films a lot. I just didn’t have any faith with this topic.

Well, fuck me, I was wrong, and this movie was really fucking good. Star to finish, it captivated me about wall street fucking over America.

The acting was on point from all points, especially with Carrell and Bale as power houses. Pitt was very subtle in this film, similar to his role in 12 Years A Slave. But even better about these roles is that no single person was really the main character. The main character was the housing bubble and banks lying to America.

Were these people bad for profiting off the downfall of the World Economy? Sure, kind of. That is morally grey. Because it shows that some of them tried to tell everyone the problem with the numbers, tried to do something about the collusion, but were laughed right in their faces. Even if they wanted to warn everyone, no one would listen because the vast majority of people didn’t understand how any of it worked and were lied too constantly.

This movie made me ANGRY. I felt rage at what was going on, only eight years ago. I am mad that nothing has really changed. I am mad that no one got punished for it and that so many people got fucked over. I am mad that this movie is also a comedy, and that I gained so much amusement at something that ended up being so terrible.

And that is what a great movie can do. It can make you feel things. The Big Short is funny and anger inducing, while also taking a very complicated subject and making one feel like they understand it. I feel like I totally understand everything that happened now and it was something I never really thought about before. The Big Short is good enough that I feel like I could watch it every few months and still enjoy it and still feel those same emotions.

The Big Short wants me to almost get political and start shouting at rich people. One of the years best.

4 out of 4.

Unbroken

What is this Unbroken thing? It isn’t Unbreakable or Unstoppable or Unthinkable. It is Unbroken? What does that even mean? I didn’t even know there was a word to describe something as not-broken. I just assumed it was the general state unless otherwise noted as broken.

English is weird.

My first thought seeing the trailer was Oscar Bait. My second thought was, wait, haven’t I already seen this movie? It was also based on a true story, during WW2, prisoner of war who got abused by a Japanese man but never gave up and overcame great struggle? Yeah. That was The Railway Man. This is just the same movie but a bigger budget and more CGI right?

Oh. That one was British and this is American. That’s the difference.

Railraod
Yep, just replace him with a lad instead of a boy and it’s the same scenes.

Unbroken is the “true story” of Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an Italian-American hero or something like that. As a kid he got picked on for his nationality, so he had to run away a lot. Well, he got fast at running, noticed by his better brother Pete (Alex Russell). Next thing you know, he is on the track team, breaking records, and hey, even going to run for the Olympics.

Then boom, World War II. Next thing you know, Olympics are canceled, and Louie now a good boy wants to join the war effort. He gets to fly in planes, and protect us from Japan!

Then his plane gets shot down and they crash land in the Pacific. Fuck. A couple dudes, some sharks, no food, and nothing that can save them. Just like the Life of Pi, basically. And of course, as the trailers tell you, they eventually get found after a long ass time. Just by Japanese soldiers. So it is off to prisoner work camps for them, far from home, to be abused and treated like animals!

Boo animals!

Also featuring Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney, Finn Wittrock and of course Takamasa Ishihara!

Watching
Run like no one is watching.

Look, I know Angelina Jolie directed it. And I know parts of it were written by the Coen brothers. But man, there was some questionable choices throughout this film for me.

First of all, the what felt like terrible CGI when they had the plane scenes bugged me. The film had some overall filter on it that got on my nerves. Was a subtle annoyance.

But also it had a lot of good things. Jack O’Connell was pretty good, although his accent could have used work. I enjoyed the scene where everyone beat the crap out of him. The backstory pre-war was entertaining for me. Some emotional stuff in the middle.

However, I think overall I liked The Railway Man more, because that confrontation between the the prisoner and his torturer were intense and a great build up. It was a bit more boring, technically, but it felt a bit more real and a lot less cheesy. This one didn’t have a great build up, but instead just your typical worse and worse until they are in a terrible camp, not just a bad camp.

In particular, near the end when main character finds extra strength despite being a beaten prisoner so that he can lift up wood high? That might as well have had cheese falling out of everyone’s ears. It made me cringe and think it was some ridiculous American power fantasy. I didn’t find it inspirational, I found it laugh able. Because up to that point too, the movie felt enjoyable enough for a 3 maybe. Even with all that time spent on the boat.

But then they went full Oscar bait or something. And I just had to shake my head.

2 out of 4.